Pol­lu­tion-bust­ing plants

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

It’s widely ac­cepted that plants can fil­ter pol­lu­tion from the at­mos­phere, re­duc­ing harm­ful chem­i­cals such as ben­zene. Since NASA’s tests on air-fil­ter­ing house­plants in the 1980s, sci­en­tists have been com­par­ing the in­flu­ence of in­di­vid­ual plants on air qual­ity. Two com­mon house­plants that score highly are mother-in-law’s tongue ( San­se­vieria) and the peace lily ( Spathiphyl­lum). More re­cently, as part of the fight against pol­lu­tion in Mi­lan, two spe­cially de­signed tower blocks (called Bosco Ver­ti­cale – or Ver­ti­cal For­est) were cov­ered with over 900 trees to ab­sorb dust, smog and heat. Hairy, rough or nee­dle-like leaves are best for cap­tur­ing pol­lu­tant par­ti­cles, which are de­posited on leaf sur­faces or re­moved from the air as plants take in gases. While botanists still have more re­search to do in this field, it’s clear that gar­den­ers can make a vi­tal con­tri­bu­tion to air qual­ity in our homes and cities, and to the health of their in­hab­i­tants.

Emma Craw­forth, Gar­den­ing Ed­i­tor

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